News Release
February 14, 2008
Contact: Joanna Zoltay
Number: 312-886-2597

Indoor Marijuana Grow Yields 1000 Plants In Minnesota
White Bear Lake Resident Arrested

FEB 14 -- (Minneapolis, MN) - A White Bear Lake man has been charged by the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Minnesota in connection with a marijuana growing operation involving more than 1,000 plants. Soua Vang, 27, was charged on February 11, 2008 with one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court, a White Bear Lake volunteer firefighter notified law enforcement on Jan. 26, 2008, regarding a home located on Michael Avenue, in White Bear Lake. The firefighter responded to a complaint of a citizen who believed the home might be on fire because the house’s exterior had large amounts of condensation and there was a lack of snow on the roof. The firefighter concluded that the exterior of the home was hot to the touch, but observed no smoke or fire. Vang was observed driving past the home and was later stopped by police. Officers told Vang they suspected his house may be on fire. Vang went inside the home and told officers that the house was warm because he had left the heat on too high, the affidavit stated.

A search warrant executed at the residence on Michael Avenue revealed a marijuana growing operation in the basement and in an unoccupied bedroom. The basement contained an estimated 1,000 marijuana plants, along with stems and remnants of marijuana plants indicating a recent marijuana harvest. Present in the residence during the time of the search warrant were Vang and his small child. Vang was taken into custody.

“Drug trafficking is not a victimless crime. This was a major marijuana grow operation in a home where a small child also resided,” stated Gary G. Olenkiewicz, the Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Chicago Field Division which covers the state of Minnesota. “We will continue to work with our state and local counterparts to keep children safe in our communities.”

The investigation was a joint effort by the DEA, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments of Oakdale and White Bear Lake, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas M. Hollenhorst. If convicted, Vang faces a potential maximum penalty of life imprisonment. All sentences are determined by a federal district court judge.

The public is reminded the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at trial or by guilty plea.